Wooden Decking in Durban – What Timber to Use

Wooden decks Durban
A CCA treated pine substructure and balau deck boards

Wooden decking in Durban, or any other area in South Africa is a valuable, inexpensive way of creating extra outdoor space. The climate in South Africa lends itself to outdoor living and as such a wooden deck in Durban is almost essential. There are many articles on this blog on how to build a wooden deck, what methods we use in building etc. so please feel free to browse and find what you are looking for. In this article I will mention some of the types of wood we use in building our wooden decks and provide reasons why we choose those types of wood.

Our deck substructures are made from CCA treated pine. Pine is a locally grown timber, relatively fast growing and as such inexpensive. It is used widely in the building trade as structural timber. It does however need to be CCA treated in order to prevent rot and insect infestation. CCA treatment is available in various H levels or Hazard Classifications. H3 is what is typically used in wooden decking as it is suitable to live out doors with occasional wetting. H4 is what one uses for posts or beams that are in constant contact with wet soil. If you stick to these guidelines, as set out by The South African Wood Preservers Association, then you will get a minimum of 50 years life span from your H3 timber and 30 years from your H4 timber. Pine is also relatively cheaper than balau. Balau can be used as a substructure but it is about 4 to 5

Wooden decks Durban
A balau substructure

times the price of treated pine. Balau will rot quicker than correctly treated pine in a substructure, believe it or not.

The pine that needs to be used in the substructure needs to be at least S5 which is SABS structurally approved timber. What it means is that there is no more than a certain specified amount of knots per square metre of timber. Pine is very knotty and is split up into different S categories which all carry a different price tag.

Pine is however not my fist choice for deck boards. Firstly it costs pretty much the same as balau. The reason for this is that the grooves below are machined here in South Africa and it is S7 timber so virtually knot free and it therefore carries a higher price tag then S5 pine. Added to this is that you are using almost twice as much timber because it is less dense. Typically a pine deck board would be 32mm thick whereas a balau deck board would be 19mm thick. The cubic metre rate for balau deck boards is also about half the price of the structural balau. Pine also tends to, warp and crack more easily then balau when exposed to direct sunlight because it is less dense and expands and

Wooden decks Durban
Balau deck boards

contracts a lot more than balau. This is fine for a substructure which uses thicker pieces of wood and is protected from the sun, but doesn’t work well on deck boards.

Based on all the above, it makes financial sense, and structurally it is the best option, to use H3 and H4 CCA Treated pine as a substructure and balau deck boards.

There are other options for deck boards. Massaranduba and Garappa are both very good woods which will outlast balau, but cost about 20% more per square metre. They are mostly used in the Highveld and in areas of South Africa where they experience extreme temperatures between seasons. Because they are denser, more stable and less prone to cracking

Wooden decks Durban
Balau deck boards

and warping, they can withstand minus 10 in winter and plus 30 in summer. Durban however has a more stable climate with less extremes between seasons and as such balau is the most suitable choice for hardwood decks.

For a free no obligation quote on your wooden sun deck in Durban please call us on 031 – 762 1795 or use the contact us form below.

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